Security for Specialized Storage

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The self-storage product continues to become more popular and specialized. Today’s facility owners use boat/RV storage, wine storage, records storage and even vault storage to attract market share. In all cases, security is one of the most important components of site marketing and safety.

Most storage facilities have some security practices in common, but each site may differ in terms of the level of defense it requires. To determine your facility’s needs, analyze your market and decide what you want to accomplish with your security system. Start by asking the following questions. The answers will help determine what you need as well as extras it might be wise to include.

  • Who is my competition, and what security do they offer?
  • Am I in a high-crime area?
  • Will security be key a marketing point for my site?
  • Does the facility’s physical layout add to site security?

Basic Components

Site security is becoming more sophisticated and consumers have increasingly greater expectations, especially when it comes to valuables like wine, vehicles and records. At a minimum, you’ll need to incorporate proper lighting and physical barriers into your site. Lighting creates a safe environment, assists the manager with sufficient visibility, and makes video surveillance more effective. Physical security can include building layout, fencing and access control.

For drive-up and exterior units, such as those used for boat/RV storage, a high perimeter fence is a necessity. You can increase its effectiveness by placing razor wire around the top, but only if it’s legal in your area—check with your local zoning department. For even tighter security, consider infrared perimeter beams that integrate with the alarm system.

Access control allows you to manage who enters and exits the facility at any time. Typically operated using keypads and individually assigned codes, an access system will allow you to lock out unauthorized or delinquent parties. It will also allow you to run reports and track who was on site and when. Using these records, you can quickly determine who was on the premises during the time of a theft or other crime.

Use coded entry to ensure tenants can only go into areas for which they have access. Keypads can be used to control exterior gates, hallways, doors and even individual units. Elevator restriction is another great application of access control. If you have a multilevel building with interior units, you can restrict tenants to certain floors, minimizing the snoop factor.

Unit Alarms

Access control allows you to keep unauthorized parties off the property, but how do protect units from inside theft, i.e., that committed by tenants? This is where individual unit alarms come into play. A wireless motion sensor inside a unit door can sound an alarm and alert the authorities. The sensor is only disarmed when the rightful tenant enters his access code at the facility entrance. There are wireless door alarms to fit units of all sizes, even large spaces used for boats, RVs and records.

Digital Video Surveillance

An excellent way to keep a facility secure is a digital surveillance system. Due to the popularity of this equipment, prices have dropped to a very affordable level. The amount of gear you need depends on your site layout as well as the types of storage you offer. Work with an experienced vendor who can suggest optimal camera locations based on your particular operation.

For RV/boat storage, your main focus is to track movement around the units. Be sure to cover all main traffic areas as well as long runs and driveways. At the entrance, have a camera focused to capture license-plate numbers. For storage of high-end items such as wine and furs, aim a camera at each designated area, ensuring visibility of every unit door.

Consider offering remote-viewing capability in conjunction with your video - surveillance system. For a premium, tenants can have a video camera aimed specifically at their units, and they can access the view of that camera anytime, anywhere through a web browser. Some facilities charge up to $5 per month for this option.

Office Security

Office security is a necessity for all storage facilities. Consider installing motion sensors, glass-break sensors and door sensors to the office or even the manager’s apartment. Some systems will actually talk instead of making a siren noise. You can even record your own verbal alert, which tricks the culprit into thinking there’s someone watching him in real time on camera. What a great way to stop theft!

Software

To tie your entire security system together, you need software. There are many companies that offer software specifically for self-storage management. Many of the programs provide the tools necessary for specialized storage types, but only a few offer packages that completely integrate with a facility’s security hardware. Shop around for the package that will best suit the needs of your site.

Software can range from basic to sophisticated. For example, some programs include graphical interface and web access. Graphical programs provide a 2-D or 3-D representation of a facility, which can be displayed on monitors in the office. This works as an excellent marketing tool, promoting your security and vigilance to customers. A web-access system allows tenants to pay their bills online, creating convenience and value and streamlining business processes.

There are several security providers in the market today, so research each company and make sure it’s stable. You’ll want your vendor around in the future should your system need maintenance, service or upgrades. Though security has not traditionally been used as a profit-maker, you’ll find it provides returns in lower insurance costs, minimized risk and increased site marketability, especially when it comes to specialized storage.

Owen Runnals is an account representative with QuikStor Security & Software, a California-based company specializing in access control, management software, digital video surveillance, kiosk and corporate products for the self-storage industry. For more information, call 800.321.1987; e-mail orunnals@quikstor.com; visit www.quikstor.com.

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